How to rack up some birdies on the George Fazio Golf Course at Palmetto Dunes resort
HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. -- The George Fazio Golf Course at Palmetto Dunes Oceanfront Resort is a straightforward layout with bunkers that might be visible from space. These aren't little "gotcha" pot bunkers lurking out of sight. Fazio was proud of his bunkers and made them larger than life. Yes, you can see them from the tee.
Beyond sand, another thing you can rely on when it comes to this golf course is the outstanding condition of the greens. With the new zoysia turf, the greens are indestructible, consistent in smoothness and speed, but the interlocking blades make the direction a bit variable, so go for the center of the cup.
The first hole is an introduction to the golf course -- a par 4 with room off the tee and a slight bend left to the large two-tiered green. You also get your first taste of the mammoth bunkers. They are three-dimensional. You don't just have to pass them, you have to add a little loft to avoid their backstop ledges.
No. 2 on the Fazio course at Palmetto Dunes: first chance at birdie
A scoring opportunity arrives with the second hole, a short par 5 with a mound on the left side that can add yards to your drive if you hit the top of it. If you have to reach to hit the green with your second shot, lay up because trees and sand left or land in water right can block you. Cozy your third shot up to the green. You'll still be looking at a birdie. Unfortunately, there are only two par 5s on this par-70 course, so aim carefully on the par 3s for other score-shaving chances.
No. 9 on the Fazio course at Palmetto Dunes: another open door
The par-4 ninth hole is all about shot placement. You have to take it right down the middle to avoid bunkers on both sides. If you do that, you're all set. It's a simple shot to the long, skinny tiered green with bunkers on the left.
No. 10 on the Fazio course at Palmetto Dunes: the other par 5
The 10th hole keeps most of the trouble at the green, with a trio of bunkers causing visual havoc. If you can put the ball near the green on the third shot, you've got a good chance to put a ring around your score.
No. 12 on the Fazio course at Palmetto Dunes: short and stark
Clearing the water off the tee should be no trouble on the par-4 12th hole, but ignoring the intimidating steep bunkers in front of the green is a little challenging. If you do, it's a good birdie opportunity because the green is wide and somewhat shallow. Go for the pin -- life is short and so is this hole.
The seventh hole has a bit of a water carry in front of the elevated green guarded on the right with lots of trees and a bunker left. If you're short and the grounds crew is overzealous in its mowing, you could roll back into the drink.
The signature 16th hole on the Fazio course at Palmetto Dunes is a sandy work of art. The trick is to fly the bunker that creeps into the fairway from the right and aim at the 150-yard marker. Then, take a careful shot to the green that has a drop-off to water on the right and mounding and bunkers left and rear. As long as you stay calm, this hole won't hurt you.
A couple secrets
One, the trick to the fifth and 13th holes is to hit your drive past the 150-yard marker. Anything short will be blocked out by a string of trees on the left. Two, rarely if ever is a long approach shot punished. Fazio put nary a bunker behind a green, not even the par 3s. The only exceptions are Nos. 11 and 16, which share a huge dual green and a lot of bunkers. The secret to 11 is to hit it far enough over the bevy of bunkers. You can do it.
No. 18 on the Fazio course at Palmetto Dunes: heading to the barn
You're going to work for that post-game refreshment. The par-4 18th is so, so Fazio. You're greeted at the tee with a wall of sand that you have to clear to position your next shot. That too has to clear a morass of sand in a waste bunker that stretches across the fairway for about 50 yards beginning at 136 yards out. There is another smattering of bunkers between that and the 41-yard tiered green. It's a hole you'll remember.